Mean and Lowly Things, by Kate Jackson

I have just shot two days when I should have gotten a lot more done than I did reading Harvard graduate student Kate Jackson’s absorbing (to put it mildly) recount of her three trips to collect specimen snakes and amphibia in the Republic of Congo (as distinguished from the Democratic Republic of Congo). Dr. Jackson’s passion for herpetology overcame the most intolerable of circumstances, camping for weeks in deep jungle, bitten daily by all manner of insects, snakes, and other creatures. She seems to have no end of tolerance for discomfort, which for me pretty much defines how much adventure a person will have in her life.

I got my copy of this remarkable book from our public library, but it is, of course, available wherever you buy your books online. You can read some of Kate Jackson’s blog posts and reader reviews at

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